Whispers of the Wolf

Native American Heritage Month 2015

Whispers of Wolf12019923_1153634834665819_1090367024691818742_nWhispers of the Wolf

Pauline Ts’o, Author and Illustrator

Wisdom Tales Press, Fiction, Oct. 7, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 4-8 years

Themes: Pueblo Indians, Southwest, Wolves, Human-animal relationships, Wildlife Rescue

Opening: “Over five hundred years ago, a Pueblo boy and his grandfather were looking for medicine plants high above their village.”

Synopsis: Two Birds, a shy Pueblo boy living in the desert southwest, discovers a whimpering wolf pup in a deep hole. The cub is weak and hardly moves. He asks Grandfather if he may rescue the pup. Two Birds nurses the wolf pup back to health. The wolf goes with Two Birds and his friend, Gray Bear, on hunting trips. A bond forms between Two Birds and his wolf as they explore the natural world together. He hears the wolf’s thoughts in “whispers” of the wind, sun and rain. He shares these  “whisper” stories with Gray Bear. Word spreads through the village and children come to listen to Two Birds’ stories. One night the wild wolves begin calling from a distance and Two Birds’ wolf responds. The wolf yearns to be free and Two Birds will have a decision to make.

Why I like this story:

Whispers of the Wolf is a gratifying portrayal of the community life of the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico and Arizona before the arrival of the Spanish explorers. Pauline Ts’o spent over ten years visiting with Pueblo families in their homes and learning about their strong sense of community. Read the “Author’s Note” at the beginning of the book to learn about her impressive research for this work of historical fiction.

The result is a heartwarming story about a shy boy trying to find his voice and place among his Pueblo community. When Two Birds finds the wolf pup, his unlikely relationship with the wolf helps him gain self-confidence and develop reverence and respect for the natural world. The characters are memorable and the storytelling will appeal to children and adults of all ages. Ts’o has written a beautiful tale about Native Americans tribes of the southwest. She captures the warmth and beauty of the Pueblo culture in her rich and lively illustrations.

Resources: There are “Notes on the Illustrations” that include fascinating details about the Pueblo culture, family life, adobe houses and living spaces, language, storytelling, traditions and wolves. There is also a map showing the tribal regions in North America. Visit Wisdom Tales Press for resources on American Indians and the Native American Heritage Month website for other resources.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books. 

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving

Squantos Journey102606130Squantos Journey:  The Story of the First Thanksgiving

Joseph Bruchac, author

Greg Shed, illustrator

Silver Whistle – Harcourt, Inc., Historical Fiction, 2000

Suitable for: Ages 6-12

Themes: Squanto, Wampanoag Indians, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, Survival

Opening/Synopsis“My story is both strange and true.  I was born in the year the English call 1590.  My family were leaders of the Patuxet people and I, too, was raised to lead. But in 1614 I was taken to Spain against my will.  Now it is 1621 and I am again in my homeland.  My name is Squanto, I would like to tell you my tale.”   Squanto plays a key role in bringing peace between the Indians and the English settlers who arrived in Plymouth.  The settlers were not prepared for the harsh challenges they faced.  Squanto taught them ways of the living on the land so that they could plant crops, hunt, fish and prepare for the winter.  When the autumn arrived they celebrated the good harvest with a feast for all.   Squanto’s tribe worked with the settlers to help them survive.

Why I like this book:  The story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is known to children.  Author Joseph Bruchac tells the story from the Native American perspective in first person.  Squanto ( Tisquantum) was captured by the British, taken to Spain as a slave where he escaped and found his way back home to New England.  He was the first Native American Indian to live in the European and Indian world.  The author’s research is thorough and he spent many years among the Native American tribe.  He wrote this fascinating  and inspiring account of how Squanto taught the Pilgrims to survive the harsh New World.  Greg Shed’s research took him to Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA, where he studied the landscape, and buildings and settlement so he could capture the authenticity in his bold and beautiful illustrations.

Resources: There is an informative Author’s Note at the end.  The Plimoth Plantation has a wonderful section “Just for Kids,” where children can learn to talk like a Pilgrim, take a virtual  Thanksgiving field trip sponsored by Scholastic, and work with materials for reports and coloring pages.  Click here to view a short video on the Plimoth Plantation produced by the History Channel.

Journey with me…

 

 

Special-needs-children-222x225Welcome to Children’s Books Heal!   I specifically chose to use “heal” in my blog name, because I felt it more inclusive of what I wanted to communicate — books have the power to heal.  Many of the books I plan to  review will focus on children and teens with special needs.   It’s  a broad category ranging from autism, Asperger’s syndrome, cancer, cerebral palsy, hearing and visual impairments to anxiety, ADHD, intellectual disability, adoption, divorce and grief.  I also will target books that are  multicultural,  about peace, conflict resolution, virtues, and the power of music and the arts to heal.  Each book will be hand-picked for the quality of its message.

In January 2011, Scholastic, the largest publisher of children’s books, released the Top 10 Trends in Children’s Books from 2010.    Among those trends was an increase in fiction with main characters who have special needs.  Examples included My Brother Charlie, Marcel in the Real World, and Mockingbird — all great books I will share.

According to a study published by Brigham Young University professors in the December 2010 issue of Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities,  “Despite an increasingly positive portrayal  of characters with disabilities in Newbery Award-winning books, there still is not an accurate representation of the nearly 7 million children with disabilities attending U.S. public schools.”   They studied Newbery Award and Honor books published from 1975 to 2009.

“We are hoping that this will be a call to authors,”  said Professor Tina Dyches.  “We’ve got so many wonderful authors in the world and we would love to see more inclusive characterizations in high quality books where kids with disabilities are being recognized for who they are no not just the limitations of their disabilities.”

I am a journalist and writer who  hopes to review high quality books for children and students with special needs.  I bring with me many life experiences.  My husband and I have a large blended family, with two adopted children, one a foreign adoption.  We have parented children with disabilities and special needs.  I also know what it is like to live as an adult with a disability, as I had a serious brain injury seven years ago.  And, I know how grief impacts children and families.  In 2009, our grandson was a casualty of the war in Iraq.   These experiences have influenced my choice in writing books for children, and the theme for my blog.

Please join me in my journey of writing and blogging.

Patricia